Friday, September 5, 2008

Goodbye Summer... Hello Fall

A couple of early mornings ago, I opened the door leading to our backyard patio and found a surprise waiting for me on the welcome mat.

Nope it wasn’t our neighbour’s kitty. The one who seems to think our welcome mat belongs to her. It wasn’t our “resident” raccoon either. The one who hangs out somewhere in the “mini” forest behind our house, sneaks up to our patio door and peeks through the window to see what we are up to. So what was waiting for me to discover on the welcome mat? A big, rusty coloured maple leaf ... just dropping by to let me know that it won’t be long before we all say good-bye to summer and hello to fall.

Two events always mark the beginning of the third season of the year for me. The first fallen leaf and the Metchosin country fair. I look forward all year long to the sights, sounds and absolutely delicious smells that permeate the air at this country fair! That’s where you’ll find us this weekend.

It’s an old fashioned type fair with country vendors, music, entertainment and games for the kids. But by far the best part is the salmon and lamb barbeque (roasted over open air wood burning fires) at 5 p.m.. It's quite a bargain at $12.oo a ticket! You get a big piece of salmon, big piece of lamb, homemade apple mint jelly, corn on the cob, coleslaw and a roll. This is followed by mouth-watering, delicious homemade "prize winning" pies for dessert. I understand that this year they are also going to have a cake baking contest and the prizewinners will be sold by the piece at the barbeque.

It is a great fundraising event for this little country town. One thing we have found out over the years... you gotta get there early to buy your dinner ticket! They sell out FAST, often by noon, every year.

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." Albert Camus

When I was a little kid, I absolutely delighted in jumping into a mountain of raked leaves in my uncle’s back yard. Now mind you, my uncle Gordon, who had just spent a couple of hours raking up that pile, made noises that he wasn’t terribly amused. Funny though, he always had a tiny smile at the corner of his lips, his eyes twinkled with laughter and he always invited me back to rake leaves with him throughout the fall. GRIN

Gathering pretty leaves to make a “turkey” pasted on paper for a Thanksgiving card was a favourite childhood pastime in the fall! (Thanksgiving is in early October in Canada). Today I continue to enjoy gathering those lovely autumn “flowers” to use in my “grown up” art. Here is a digital collage I created this week with the leaf I found on my doorstep and scanned into my computer...

How to Preserve Autumn Leaves in Beeswax

There are a number of ways to preserve fall leaves. Pressing them. Ironing them in waxed paper. Dipping them in a mixture of glycerin and water. However, over the years, the leaves I love to use in my art and collages are simply brushed with a thin coat of beeswax.

Want to wax your own leaves this fall? It’s a simple and easy process.

What you'll need:

Autumn leaves
Paper towels
Mini Travel Iron
1" paint brush
Melting pot or other utensil suitable for melting beeswax in
brown paper bag
large square of 1/4" plywood to protect your work surface

1. Gather leaves at their peak. I like to find fresh ones that perhaps have a little blemish here and there. These tiny imperfections add interest.

2. Sandwich the leaves between two paper towels and iron them dry but not to the point that they become brittle.

3. Heat up your pot of beeswax. You can use a melting pot with a project tray or a small aluminum pot that will fit into the base of the melting pot. You can also use an old crock pot although I find it takes forever to heat up! One of my friends told me she uses a small pot on one of the old coffee mug warmers. I haven't tried it, but if you do, let me know how it works.

One word of caution. Never heat beeswax over 140 degrees F. It can flash and start a fire! Ask me. I once nearly burnt my freshly painted, new kitchen down when I melted some candles on the stove. The phone rang in the middle of this process and I forgot all about the wax. I caught it at the very last moment and used a fire extinguisher but what a black, gooey mess my fresly painted ceiling was... we won't talk about the top of the stove! It was a real pain in the you know what to get cleaned up! I shook in my boots at that close call for weeks.

4. My “worksheet” is a piece of brown paper bag on top of a large ¼” piece of plywood board. I often keep my worksheet once it is saturated with beeswax for other uses.

5. Brush a thin coat of beeswax on both sides of the leaf using a brush devoted to beeswax work only. My beeswax brush is just an ordinary 1” paint brush from the paint store that I use strictly for working with wax.

6. Lay your leaf on the brown paper. Using a mini travel iron or quilting iron (one devoted to beeswax work only) to smooth out the wax on the leaf . You're done! Wasn't that easy?

As I close for today, I’d like to wish you a lovely weekend and share with you a delightful quote about the seasons by Stanley Horowitz that really says it all:

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all."


P.S. Remember to get your entry in for the “Recycling Brainstorming Contest” (see Thrifty Tuesday Art Tips from Sept. 2 for details) and the chance to win a mini shopping spree at After Midnight Art Stamps! Deadline is midnight (your time zone), Sunday, Sept. 7.